Those less fortunate have numerous issues to solve, so a proper bed for the children is sometimes last on the list. You might be surprised to learn that 2-3% of American children go don’t have a proper place to rest the heads.
Yet, one Idaho man, Luke Mickelson, decided to change this.
In 2012, he was devastated to find out the number of children who slept on the floor in his immediate community. And it all started when he donated a bed to a girl who slept on a pile of her clothes on the floor.
He later explained that the girl had a nest of clothes, like a little bird’s nest, and she slept on it. When they delivered her the bed, she hugged it and just couldn’t let go.
When Mickelson saw this, he knew he needed to do something to put a smile on other kids’ faces.
“I sat there in silence thinking, ‘Is that really what’s going on?’ There are kids next door whose parents are struggling just to put food on the table, clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads. A bed was just a luxury.”
Born and raised in Idaho, Mickelson was a high school quarterback-turned-family-man. He was a devoted churchgoer with a thriving career, he coached his kids’ sports teams and fished in the nearby river. Yet, when he met children who were sleeping on the floor, his idyllic life changed course.
He found more children in need of beds, so he was determined to learn how to construct a bed. He learned the basics from construction manuals and his daughter’s bunk bed at home.
Over time, he became skillful enough to make perfect beds for less-privileged kids.
He explained that his family, friends, and volunteers joined him.
For his first project, they built 11 bunk beds in his garage. The following year, they did 15, a number which doubled every year, and in 2017, they built 612 bunk beds.
“We have a lot of situations where single parents are escaping an abusive situation. A lot of foster care situations, where parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters are trying to help. A lot of homelessness, people trying to get back on their feet. A $300 or $400 bed is just out of the possibility for them.”
His charity grew rapidly, so he established a formal, non-profit organization, Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
The motto was “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town,” and it currently has more than 173 chapters in different communities in and around Idaho.
As of 2018, there were 14,780 volunteers in several stations, more than 4,144 bunk beds have been built and about 9,253 kids have been taken off the floor.
At one point, he couldn’t continue his mission and work on his career at the same time. When he had to choose the more important thing, he chose to provide for kids in need.
“I found that the need I have isn’t financial. The need I have is seeing the joy on kids’ faces, knowing that I can make a difference.”
And he never regretted it. He was surrounded by people who supported him and appreciated his efforts.
He got another job afterward, and even though the pay was nothing like the previous one, it was more than enough for him.
He gets the reward when he thinks of all the kids he has helped.
“It was gratifying to see my kids and my family be involved with it and help them learn the value of service, but also seeing everybody else feel and see that joy from helping kids get off the floor. It’s contagious. I was very fortunate to have another company offer me a job.
Granted, I took a huge pay cut, but it helps me get by and helps me do what I need to do with Sleep in Heavenly Peace. They’re very understanding of what my passion is.”
The joy and smiles he sees whenever they deliver a bed is the fuel to his fire.
“You walk in and these kids are just so excited. They want to help build it. They want to run the drills. They want to bring in wood. Just giving a kid a sense of ownership, a sense of responsibility, as well as a good night’s sleep, is tremendous for them. They learn how to take care of things. They learn value. They get confidence — and they get a good night’s sleep.”
The charity does not just deliver the beds, but they teach the kids value, kindness, and responsibility.
“When we deliver a bed, that’s where the rubber meets the road. We make sure that they understand that, ‘This is your bed. This is yours. This is a possession of yours,’ you know? The underlying tone is, ‘We’re here for the child.’”
Anyone in need of a bed can visit their website and click the “Request a Bed” tab. There are currently 173 chapters in 46 states, and you should see if there is one near your home.
The charity receives over 25 applications each day. The whole effort is run by volunteers and Mickelson himself takes no salary, but the happiness on the children’s faces when they receive the bunk bed keeps him going.
According to their website, to qualify as a bed recipient, one must be the legal guardian of the child or children receiving the bed.
Yet, referring a family for a bed is a big responsibility, and in general, it is through referrals that they find the families who need our beds the most.
Then, just complete the application form, and depending on the zip code supplied, the request will be sent to the chapter closest to you for vetting by the chapter president.
Applicants must fit the following criteria to receive one of their bunk beds:
- They should live near one of their active chapters
- They must have an accessible house or apartment with a room large enough to fit a bed
- They must provide contact info, phone, text or email.
- They must fill in the online SHP Application Form, and if it is accepted, they should sign an Indemnification Release Form.
The kids who need a bed the most are their priority, but the charity tries to provide for every kid who needs them.
Once an application is received, a selection committee will review it. Selecting a recipient isn’t done on a first-come, first-served basis, but the charity makes a decision based on which children need beds the most.
The charity explains that they cannot guarantee that every applicant will get a bed, as they make and deliver beds as supplies and donations allow. When they are out of beds or bedding, they file unselected applications away until they can make more.